To sit or not to sit? That is the question!
Whether you should provide seats for guests at your wedding ceremony or not, is certainly a question that I often see raised in social media groups and online forums for brides-to-be. And the answer?
Well, in my experience as a Celebrant, I can honestly say there is no right answer.
I have been involved in many wedding ceremonies and I have seen almost every variation in seating arrangements possible. I have seen situations where:
- seats have been provided for all the guests,
- seats have been provided for just a limited number of guests,
- and where no seats at all have been provided.
They each work perfectly well.
Providing seats for each of the guests at your wedding ceremony
Providing each guest at your wedding the opportunity to sit comfortably and enjoy the ceremony is a traditional and very popular option. And, I believe, a lovely one too! After all, as the bride and groom, you are the hosts for the day and making your guests feel comfortable is all part of being good hosts.
Traditionally, the front few rows of seats are reserved for immediate family, with friends and extended family sitting behind: those of the bride to the left and the groom's to the right (as you look at the bride and groom). The first seat (next to the aisle) on the left hand side is usually reserved for the person with the honour of giving the bride away.
Some couples choose to go as far as allocating front row seats to specific guests. In these instances I always encourage the bride and groom to think long and hard about the people they would like to have closest to them on their very special day.
I have seen many occasions where guests seated in the front rows have been allocated their own personal seat with a name tag. This is a nice touch; very special, very thoughtful and really quite lovely. Name tags can be attached with string or ribbon. They can be standard rectangular tags, heart shaped, butterfly shaped, boat shaped ...
...what ever your heart desires. Just dip into your creative mind!
However, whatever you decide, make sure they are well secured and they can't be blown away!
Providing seating for all your wedding guests also gives you a chance to be a little more creative with your decorations. Ribbons in the colour of your wedding party can be added, or fresh flowers placed at the end of each row of chairs. Shepherd hooks are very popular and, if you are into DIY, you could even make your own decorations in the theme and style of your wedding.
A word of warning for any bride planning to wear a wedding dress with a full skirt - make sure there will be plenty of space for you to be to be escorted arm-in-arm down the aisle. I have seen occasions where the bride has actually had to walk in front of the person giving her away because the aisle between the seats was too narrow!
If you are planning to hold your wedding ceremony in a rural setting, bench seating is quite appropriate and very popular. I have even seen bales of hay used as seats. They are not only a quirky and fun way of seating your guests but can help can make your ceremony set-up blend into the wonderful landscape surrounding you.
When it comes to seating, the sky is the limit as you draw on your imagination.
Providing seats for only a limited number of wedding guests
Providing seats for just a limited number of your wedding guests is another popular arrangement.
This is a compromise where, for example, if you were planning a wedding with 90 guests, you would choose to provide around only 40 seats for your guests.
You could arrange, for instance, two blocks of ten chairs (two rows with a split in the middle for the aisle). This would allow you to cater for your immediate family, elderly guests or any guests that may be pregnant or have a disability. And, it also keeps the cost down a little bit.
On many occasions, with partial seating, the guests are a little reluctant to sit down as they are being polite leaving the seating for other guests. However, in such instances, it is your Celebrant's job (often with a little friendly coaxing) to make sure all the seats are filled.
Providing no seating at all for your wedding ceremony
Providing no seating at all for guests at your wedding ceremony is an arrangement best suited to the more casual style of wedding. 'Surprise Weddings', for instance, come to mind here; or weddings to be held in a backyard where they are more akin to a 'party with legalities' than a traditional wedding.
The best Surprise Weddings are those that are totally incognito! Having invited your guests to your wedding under the guise of a 50th birthday party, you wouldn't want to give the surprise away by having your garden set up for a wedding when they arrive. So no no chairs, or at least, formal arrangement of chairs is appropriate here.
Similarly, seating would be superfluous if you were planning have a casual ceremony. Perhaps at a local park or at the beach, with the bride and groom ringed by their family and friends: everyone up close and personal and very much connected to the bride and groom and the ceremony.
Of course not providing seats for your guests will present no problems at all if all your guests happen to be fit and well and in the prime of their lives; or, if your ceremony is going to be kept fairly short and sweet. If not, it would pay to be prudent and consider the specific needs of any guests that may be elderly, pregnant, or have a disability.
So, to sit or not to sit? Should you provide seating for the guests at your wedding ceremony? I hope you will now agree that there really is no right or wrong way... there is only your way!
What will your way be? Are you planning on providing seating for all of your wedding guests, for some of your guests - or none at all? Leave a comment below. I would love to know!